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The author is a short, Jewish Hollywood scriptwriter, and the style shows it. The private eye cum hero Nils Shapiro is a short Jewish guy (sound familiar?) in Minnesota for whom all the gorgeous women fall head over heels; or, at least they want to jump in bed with him. He’s a smart alecky rule-breaker who violates a number of search and seizure laws with never a consequence. The dialogue contains a healthy dose of clever and entertaining banter, although of course no one could get away with all that smarm and insultery in real life. The local, small-town police hire Shapiro to assist in a murder case since he has experience with such cases from his prior police work in Minneapolis. The title refers to the sneaky method the killer used to conceal his or her identity. The victim’s house is covered in dust, more specifically, the contents of vacuum cleaner bags in vast quantity. Supposedly, this meant the killer is very very smart since now there is DNA from hundreds of people throughout the house. In reality, and even in the book, this instead narrows the field of possible suspects to very few.
The pace is pretty good, the dialogue is quite good, and the plot is almost reasonable. It’s not Harry Bosch or Sherlock Holmes, but it was entertaining enough for me. There were plenty of logical shortcomings, but they’re forgivable. My biggest objection is the typical Hollywood portrayal of the FBI as nasty, arrogant, and incompetent. That was gratuitous as it wasn’t necessary or even important to the plot. It merely gave Shapiro a chance to make fun of the agents with his rapier wit. That’s another thing I could have done without – there are more than a few insults based on physical appearance such as fat-shaming the women and referring to people with nicknames based on some unattractive physical feature.
Really liked this book. The wise cracking humor reminded me of another favorite, David Housewright Lots of Twin Cities locals included. I have Shallows on reserve and looking forward to reading it.
Random pick off the shelf & rewarded with snappy dialog, interesting characters, some social situations I'm so relieved to have lived past. Love the humor, plan to read more from Goldman. There were a couple of situations I found undeveloped, but not enough to dismiss this author.
Loved it. Goldman throws out MN reference after MN reference throughout the story which I found enjoyable. As a mystery book, I believe it holds up very well. Reading Broken Ice right now and will pick up The Shallows after that..
I did read the second book before the first one. This one left me annoyed with the main character Nils. Made me wonder if the third book is worth reading. Nice Minnesota references throughout the book.
I went into this expecting a darker, noir-ish detective novel. Instead I found it to be an often funny, strangely "cozy" mystery. I say strangely cozy because PI Nils "Shap" Shapiro is no Miss Marple or Hercules Poirot, but the mystery he solves unfolds in a very traditional manner, which would have made Agatha Christie proud. Nils is like many detectives in that his personal life is not great, and while he struggles with his personal issues, it was kind of refreshing to not have him end up in the super-dark place that so many fictional detectives seem to inhabit. He also has a great relationship with his friend, a detective with the Edina police force. I enjoyed the witty banter between the two friends that thankfully filled up much of the book. The mystery aspect of the story was also well laid out with lots of red herrings that kept me guessing. Readers who like mysteries that include a dash of humor will want to give this book a try.
Good read. Just when I thought I had it figured out, of course, there was a nice little twist. When I had the time, I couldn't put it down. Sure page-turner.
Very good book. Part human interest, part detective story. Well developed main character with considerable laugh out loud humor.
A woman is found dead in a sea of dust. Where did the dust come from and what does it mean? When a P.I. is asked to take on the case, he quickly finds out that he has quite bit in common with the murdered woman.
As a Midwesterner, I loved the authentic Minnesota setting. As a fan of mysteries and procedurals, I loved the twists and turns of the case. As a fan of well-written characters, I loved my introduction to Nils Shapiro, a smart, wry, believable private detective who cannot let go of his demons.